tv New York Viewpoint ABC March 20, 2016 5:30am-6:00am EDT
[ theme music plays ] >> good morning, and welcome to "new york viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. this morning, we bring you a program that brings dance to those dealing with parkinson's disease. we also have with us a retired new york city teacher with a book on the problems he sees with our children and their level of literacy. but first, we begin with citymeals on wheels. since its founding in 1981, it's delivered more than 50 million meals. every year, citymeals provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and companionship to more than 18,000 of new york city's homebound elderly folks. joining us in the studio from citymeals on wheels are vivienne o'neill, the director of volunteer programs, and louise kramer,
nice to have you here. >> thank you for having us. >> tell us about the inception of citymeals first, back in 1981. what was the founding concept behind it? >> gael greene, a restaurant critic, read an article in the new york times about what -- wanted to know what the city was doing for homebound elderly on thanksgiving and realized that they weren't doing anything for that weekend. and so she rallied her friends and -- along with james beard, former restaurateur. and they raised $35,000 to feed 6,000 homebound seniors on christmas day. >> wow. and that was back in 1981. >> that's in 1981. >> and since then, it has grown to what it is today. >> it's grown to what it is today, yeah. >> and this is something that's not just in new york city, right? there are mirror programs like this all over the country. >> there are mirror programs all
actually started in england during world war ii. we -- citymeals on wheels cover the five boroughs of new york. >> and now, ms. kramer, you're a volunteer, as well. so tell us about what made you want to volunteer. >> well, i first learned about citymeals when i wrote a story about one of the board members. and i was very captivated by it. but i work in the food industry. i used to be a journalist writing about food. i wanted to give back in a way that connected to the work i do. and also, i'm single and have family that lives out west. and i just had this sense that i wanted to connect with isolated new yorkers. so all these things came together. and i contacted citymeals and was able to hook up and get this great volunteer opportunity that i've now been doing for nine years, every saturday. >> wow. and do you find that new york -- it's five boroughs, 8 million people, surrounding -- you're surrounded
yet so many times people can be so isolated and alone in a city so large. do you find that? >> many of our seniors that we serve are isolated. 57% of our seniors are 60 or older, and they're living alone and have no one to take care of them. most of the times, the only person they'll see is the person who was delivering their meals or the volunteers who's coming to deliver their meals or part of a friendly visiting program. >> wow. so what a joy this must be for them to see your people each day. >> it's really -- it makes them feel a lot more secure, knowing that there's always gonna be someone at their door. >> how often -- i mean, is it a daily thing, a weekly thing? how often? >> the seniors receive meals 7 days a week, but citymeals on wheels provide the meals for the weekends, the holidays, and in emergencies, which are times when the seniors are mostly alone, especially when we have a snowstorm like we just did and, you know, not many people are getting around, and our volunteers are out there in full force. they're
they're also checking in. >> how do you get out there during the blizzard? how did you all get these meals delivered during blizzards? >> well... >> [ laughs ] you were gonna give out the secret. you're santa clause, that's the truth. >> boots, hats, warm coats, and... >> and persistence. you know that there's somebody out there who can't do it. and if you can, you'll do it. >> you're amazing people. you really are. what hearts you have. >> yeah. >> and there is also -- there are also younger volunteers also helping out now. tell us about this program you have of younger volunteers. >> the young professional group, it's one of the most amazing group that's growing so, so much at citymeals on wheels. they're individuals, young professionals, under 45 years old. and they go out and deliver for us. they're the ones who come out in droves during an emergency for us. they also raise monies and raise awareness for citymeals on wheels. >> now, ms. kramer, i mean, you work full time, right? >> yes.
think, "i have a job, i have a family, i don't have time for this --" >> exactly. well, there is time and there are opportunities to make time, depending on your schedule. i do it on saturday mornings on the upper east side. it makes sense for me for many reasons. but my company, the specialty food association, which is a trade organization for food companies, our staff volunteers and our members provide products for special citymeals events. and snacks going to all sorts of people through the work of my company. there are opportunities to speak to people on the phone, to make greeting cards. so vivienne has a whole range of programs to fit people's schedules so that anyone who has the urge to connect with the elderly and isolated can do things. >> we make it so that anyone who's interested in volunteering can volunteer with citymeals on wheels.
you are or how young you are, what your schedule is. between delivering meals, doing friendly visits -- those who don't have the time can do our senior chat program, our senior script program, or talking to seniors on the phone. i sometimes hear volunteers on the train going home, and they're talking to their seniors en route home. >> just checking in. >> just checking in. >> and the senior population is growing. >> it's growing tremendously. right now, i think we have 1.5 -- 1.4 million people who are 60 or older in the new york area. >> so the need for citymeals on wheels is growing. >> yes. >> that's amazing. so, how can people -- so people just pick up the phone and say, "we want to help"? >> pick up the phone or go to our website, and we're right there. >> whether it be a few hours one day a week or more. >> or more. >> and they could do that. >> once a month. you can celebrate your birthday volunteering with us. >> so, do you have certain times of the year when the need is a little greater, maybe at holidays or...
droves of volunteers that'll come out and help us on thanksgiving, christmas, new year's. the time that we are short on volunteers are usually during july and august when many of new yorkers are away on holidays or, you know, they're taking care of family members. so we're usually -- during that time, we're short on volunteers, and we reach out to our regular volunteer core or our young professionals. >> i would bet that the people who volunteer their time and spend time with senior citizens get a lot more out of it than even the senior citizens do. >> that's what they tell us all the time. >> i feel that way very strongly. and the first time i did a meal delivery, i was hooked. i was clearly helping this woman walking with two canes who could hardly open her door, and i knew -- i just was amazed that i could make this connection. and it was just a short visit. >> right. >> and it had such an impact on me, and that's what had me go back again and again. >> well, it sounds like you two really have your heart in the
citymeals on wheels -- certainly a wonderful organization. new york and new yorkers are very lucky to have you. thank you both for being here today. >> thank you. >> and we are coming right back with dance for pd. they offer specialized dance classes for people with parkinson's, their families, friends, and care partners.
i'm ken rosato. dance for pd is celebrating its 15th anniversary. it's a collaboration between the mark morris dance group and brooklyn parkinson's group. it enables people with parkinson's disease to experience the joys and benefits of dance -- all this while they also address concerns that relate to balance, motor skills, depression, and physical confidence. joining us today from dance for pd are maria portman kelly, the program coordinator, janelle barry, a teacher, and david buffam, an actor and painter who was diagnosed with parkinson's in 2008. nice to have you all here. >> thank you. >> tell us about the founding of the organization. >> well, in 2001, olie westheimer, who is the founder and executive director of brooklyn parkinson group, approached the mark morris dance group with the idea of a dance class. she was facilitating a support group at the time, and it was clear from the participants of that group they wanted to engage in something a little more active, joyful, and creative.
a natural fit. she had experience with dance in her own personal life. so she recognized the potential benefits and natural parallels the art form could offer. and the mark morris dance group was willing to open their doors to this community. >> and so what was the response like when this first began? how was the response taken by somebody who had parkinson's disease? you can tell us. i mean, did a lot of people come forward? >> we weren't actually there at the time of its inception. but since it started, i mean, the classes have just been growing. and we have classes now in over a hundred cities around the world. and every year, we have more and more people coming to us to train as teachers to bring it to their community where it doesn't currently exist. >> yes, we started with a monthly class. so it's grown quite years. >> that's very significant. and david, tell me about your involvement.
like you said, i have had parkinson's for about 8 years. >> right. >> and just pretty recently, i had stopped going to the gym and that kind of stuff because i was bored with the whole same workout routine every day. and i read about this on the internet. and i saw that it was happening at juilliard, and i thought, "that sounds pretty cool." so i went to one of the classes. and surprisingly, i'd been pretty hesitant because i wasn't sure i wanted to see what other people with parkinson's looked like and what i might look like in the future. but i actually enjoyed being there. and the sense of community that is there is incredible. >> does it help you physically in terms of the movement and dance? >> you know, the doctors all say "move, move. use it or lose it."
when i'm off, when my medicine is not working, then i really have to have every benefit that i can of the -- when i'm on -- to use those muscles that are supporting me. and dance is a great way to do that. and you might say, "well, i can hardly walk. how can i go to a dance class?" but, you know, i can do movement in my chair. if i can't move my hand, i can still move a little bit with my elbow. and people do that. >> gotcha. >> the other great thing about this program is that the caregivers are not only, you know, allowed to come -- they're invited to join the program. they dance with us. >> really? so it's open to them, as well? >> yes. >> i would imagine, though, the idea that -- it might be a little off-putting, i would imagine. as you mentioned, you don't want to see people in various progressions of the disease at first.
must be almost intoxicating. >> well, it makes me want to cry sometimes to see people with real limitations still expressing themselves with their bodies. >> mm-hmm. >> it's fascinating. it's fabulous. >> mm. and how does it feel, as people running the program, dancers, et cetera, yourself -- people who use your bodies as the art expression -- to see people, exactly like david is saying, using their bodies to the best of their abilities to express themselves in the same way? >> it's incredibly powerful. it's a very moving experience for us, too, intoxicating -- keeps us coming back from week to week. and i think the essential component is the joyful sense of community. so it isn't about right or wrong. it's about coming together and doing something with your care partner that might redefine your relationship since your initial diagnosis.
>> can i just say how lucky we are to be in new york? because, you know, this is happening all over the place, as janelle said. but here in new york, we have a live piano player who's a real musician. >> mm-hmm. >> we have teachers like janelle, who is a professional dancer and just finished doing mark morris' "the hard nut" at the bam. >> [ chuckles ] >> and so, you know, that's great. >> that's a real deal. >> you get to brush elbows with the stars. [ both chuckle ] >> and what about special training? is there any special training involved before working with people who have parkinson's? >> yes. >> yes, and i'll let janelle speak to that since she's one of our teachers. >> as a teacher, we're encouraged to take various workshops. the first one, there's an introductory workshop, coming together, learning what the class is, learning about what parkinson's does, and being able to observe the class and learn what these different exercises do, but ultimately, you know, seeing that it's a dance class.
it's not about targeting specific symptoms. it's really about sharing the joy of dance with people. and we also have every year professional development workshops that teachers who are teaching all over the world are invited to come to new york and participate in. and we exchange ideas, see what's working, and maybe what isn't working and help each other brainstorm on those points. >> and what about -- i'm sorry. i was gonna ask about resources for people who may have difficulty getting to these classes. >> yes. well, for teachers, we do have an online training component that was created in partnership with our u.k. affiliates. but for persons with parkinson's themselves who do not have a local class in their community, we have dvds available for purchase through our website that simulate the group class experience. and we're also working with the national ballet of canada to launch a live streaming option for... >> wow. >> ...our classes in new york. >> even david didn't know that. >> this spring, coming soon. >> and did i hear
through google? >> moving through glass is a little bit of a separate technology we have been exploring. last year, the mark morris dance group was chosen by google to develop an app called moving through glass that brings aspects of the dance for pd experience and makes them available through google glass technology. >> yeah. >> that is fascinating. and so this is all done right here at juilliard? i say right here because wabc is located right near juilliard. >> well, we are based in brooklyn, but we do have flagship program classes available in manhattan, the bronx, and queens. >> fabulous. if somebody wants to get in touch, they can do so. we have a phone number there, right on our screen. and of course, we'll have links at abc7ny. to you, i want to thank you all for being with us today. >> thank you. >> this is a fabulous program. david, i think you kind of like it. you give your thumbs-up? >> sure. [ laughter ] >> thank you so much, all, for being here. >> thank you. >> wonderful to meet you all. and for information on all of the organizations
[ theme music plays ] >> welcome back to "new york viewpoint." i'm ken rosato. our next guest has spent 31 years teaching in new york city public schools and 6 additional years teaching remedial reading and writing to cuny students. his new book, "a lesson for ms. fort," reveals his passionate concerns about a literacy crisis in our country. the author, f. stewart kallinger, a retired new york city teacher and writer. good to have you here today. >> glad to be here. >> now, you're addressing some real challenges, as you find them, in the way
for students. >> the students don't know they can't read because they don't know the alphabet. and instead of recognizing this, all these federal programs are doing is putting more pressure on the students. it's not addressing the issue. the common core, for example, is asking students to analyze what they read. how can they analyze what they read when they don't know how -- when they don't know the sounds of the alphabet? i found from sitting with my students one-to-one, both in public schools in new york city and in cuny colleges, that they don't know all the sounds of the alphabet. and they wound up in college because they were pushed through the system in public school because of their -- if every student who deserves to fail were held back, where would there are no seats for them. they'd have to sit on the floor or the windowsill. and i'm not joking. there were no seats for them. so the students, whether they know their work or not, are pushed through. and because of open admissions with cuny, everyone who has graduated
is guaranteed a seat in a cuny community college. so we are winding up in cuny's community colleges with students who cannot read college-level text because they don't know the sounds of the alphabet. and they're 18-years-old-plus. >> so, in essence, could you end up having a cuny graduate who may not even be able to read? >> they would probably drop out unless the teachers that they have at cuny are sympathetic and are trying to maybe change things and just push them through very subtly. but i don't think that's gonna happen. so they're gonna drop out. but it's become a fiasco because we have students who just can't read. they don't know all the sounds. so they're guessing. >> what was the concept behind common core? i mean, they couldn't have been a group of people who got together and said, "let's destroy students." there had to have been a reason why they came up with the concept. so what was the original concept? >> the federal government is trying to improve upon the past. okay, we had no child left behind,
then we had the standards in which students had to read five books by the same author or five books in the same genre. they can't read. so we have to sit down -- we, meaning the teachers, have to sit down with the students and read it to them. okay. and then -- "okay, boys and girls, now do a report on this." these are the standards, the new york state standards. they don't know how to begin. they don't know how to write. they can't write a sentence. they don't know how to spell. they don't know how to spell their own names. i've had the students who i had to tell them, "you start your name, your first name, with a capital letter." they don't know that. >> so in your book, what does your book then tell us? what does the book talk about? >> the book explains what's going on. i show examples of the students, of their writing skills and of their reading levels, that they don't know the alphabet. and that is basically what i show to show the public because the public doesn't know anything about this. the public thinks everything is fine. we have the common core standards.
rewrote no child left behind. so the public feels everything is fine, everything is dandy. it's not dandy. it's not fine. we have a real crisis on our hands. and the president on down to the governors of the states, the mayors, have to acknowledge this. they're not doing it. i'm calling for them to acknowledge that we have a crisis which is only gonna get worse. >> and what about parents and their role in all this? >> it's stemming from the home. it's not a traditional home where they have a mother and father, they come home, brother and sister, and they're all concerned about school. "how was school? did you do your homework? can we help you with your assignments? we have an encyclopedia over there." unh-unh. we have parents who are in jail. the father's in jail or the mother's in jail. how can mommy be in jail? mommy's in jail with the brother and sister. prison is glamorized. it's like if the brother's gonna go to jail for armed robbery, well, he'll meet uncle joe in jail, so they'll have a reunion. they'll have thanksgiving dinner together in jail. there's no one in some of these homes. there's no one at home
they're fending for themselves. or the mother's an alcoholic. or the father's an alcoholic. it's a complete breakdown of the american family. no one's addressing this. >> all right. so what is the solution? >> i recommend that social workers or psychologists be brought in and that the parents today, whether they're in prison or at home, alcoholics, attend workshops conducted by social workers and psychologists. and also, equally as important, the children also should be spoken to by psychologists and social workers to let them know that, number one, the kind of home they live in is not the home that we should have and that, when you get older and you have your own homes, you raise your own kids, try to have a "normal home" so that you you don't go to prison. prison is not a way of life. in these homes today, prison is a way of life.
failing schools or charter schools? i mean, do you think that the charter school system is an answer? or is it just another version of the public school system? >> a charter school is an excuse because, from what i understand, the students in charter schools are well-behaved and they have parents at home who care. the students in the failing schools are not well-behaved. they don't care because there's no one at home who cares. there's no one at home. they're in jail. they're being raised by their grandparents. they're being raised by an older brother or sister. they're sent all over the country to an aunt or an uncle. they don't -- why care? nobody at home cares. so why do the homework? i sit down with my students. my colleagues sit down. we go over every sound of the alphabet, every single sound. next day -- "did you practice the alphabet? do you know it?" "oh. i forgot." "oh. i was very busy." >> all right. f. stewart kallinger. the book is called "a lesson for ms. fort." let's hope some officials hear what you're saying and take a real look at the system. and, parents, get the book, read about it, and ask your kids what's going on.
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